The San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers are scheduled to square off nine times in September. They're already playing as though the division title is on the line in late April.
The defending World Series champions overcame another two-homer night from Fernando Tatis Jr. and a strong outing by Blake Snell to rally for a 5-4 victory over the Padres on Saturday.
Corey Seager's two-run single in the sixth was part of a three-run inning that put Los Angeles ahead.
“It was a fun baseball game to be a part of,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “We threw the ball well, took good at-bats, created stress and got a couple big hits.”
The NL West rivals have split six meetings this season, with the Padres winning the previous three. They took the first two in this four-game series at Chavez Ravine, but the Dodgers were able to avoid their first three-game losing streak since 2019.
San Diego threatened in the ninth, putting the potential tying run in scoring position with one out, but Kenley Jansen retired Tatis on a grounder and struck out Trent Grisham for his fifth save.
“Every game we have played so far has been a drag-out battle," Padres manager Jayce Tingler said. “We have an opportunity to win the series (Sunday) and we have the off day on Monday, so we are going to go all out.”
San Diego took a 3-2 lead after Tatis led off the sixth with a shot to center field off Trevor Bauer, ending a run of 11 straight batters set down by the right-hander. Tatis is the first opposing player to have multi-homer games on consecutive nights at Dodger Stadium since San Francisco slugger Barry Bonds in 2002.
After taking Clayton Kershaw deep twice on Friday, Tatis became the first player to have multiple homers in back-to-back games against former Cy Young Award winners.
“It feels great to be able to do that. I've been able to do a lot of stuff and having this opportunity is a true blessing,” said Tatis, who signed a 14-year, $340 million contract during spring training, the longest deal in big league history.
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The Dodgers tied it in the sixth when Mookie Betts drew a bases-loaded walk from Pierce Johnson (0-1) and took their first lead when Seager laced a single to right.
Bauer, the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, is 3-0 for the second straight season. He struck out nine but struggled through the first two innings. He allowed a leadoff home run for the fourth time in his career when Tatis drove his cutter over the wall in left-center.
San Diego took a 2-0 lead in the second. Wil Myers began the inning with a single on the 13th pitch of his at-bat, stole second and scored on Jurickson Profar's single.
Los Angeles tied it 2-all on RBI singles by Justin Turner in the third inning and Sheldon Neuse in the fourth.
San Diego pulled to 5-4 after Jake Cronenworth scored on Blake Treinen's wild pitch in the seventh.
Snell allowed two runs and struck out seven in 5 1/3 innings.
QUITE THE WEEKEND
Tatis is the third-youngest player with multi-homer games on back-to-back nights at 22 years and 112 days, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Dodgers slugger Cody Bellinger was the youngest at 21 years, 335 days when he did it in the 2017, surpassing George Scott (22 years, 44 days), who did it in 1966 with the Red Sox.
Tatis extended his hitting streak to five games two pitches into the game when he took Bauer deep for the first time. As Tatis rounded first after the ninth leadoff homer of his career, he covered one of his eyes with his right hand to mock Bauer, who pitched with one eye closed during a spring training game against the Padres.
Tatis wasn't done having fun at Bauer's expense. As he crossed home plate in the fifth inning, Tatis strutted like MMA fighter Connor McGregor, which Bauer has done during games on the way back to the dugout.
“He got me at home (with a strikeout), so it was payback time,” Tatis said. “It's fun facing a guy like that. He's a hard guy to deal with (in terms of his pitching) but he's having fun, too.”
After starting the season 4 for 34 with two home runs, Tatis is 8 for 19 with four homers over the past five games and has raised his batting average 108 points to .226.
ON THE BASEPATHS
Myers had three stolen bases for the second time in his career.
San Diego reliever Aaron Northcraft allowed only one hit and struck out two in the seventh and eighth in his big league debut. The 30-year-old right-hander had appeared in 225 games over parts of nine seasons in the minors. This is his second stint in San Diego's organization after also being with Atlanta, Seattle and Miami.
Padres: C Austin Nola could make his season debut as early as Tuesday when San Diego begins a two-game series at Arizona. Nola has been out with a broken left middle finger since he was struck by a foul tip during a spring training game.
Dodgers: RHP Corey Knebel was placed on the injured list after straining his right lat during Friday's game. He is expected to miss at least two months. ... RHP Dennis Santana also went on the IL due to effects from a coronavirus vaccine shot. ... OF Matt Beaty and pitcher Garrett Cleavinger were called up. ... INF Gavin Lux (right wrist soreness) took batting practice for the second straight day. He is eligible to come off the injured list Monday.
The teams conclude their four-game series Sunday. San Diego righty Joe Musgrove (2-2, 1.04 ERA) has lost his last two starts since throwing the first no-hitter in team history at Texas on April 9. Los Angeles right-hander Dustin May (1-1, 2.93) is 1-3 with a 2.97 ERA in seven games (four starts) against the Padres.